Nfld. & Labrador

Human error blamed for MV Blue Puttees hitting wharf

A Marine Atlantic ferry slammed into a wharf in southwestern Newfoundland this summer because of a mistake on the ship's bridge.

Marine Atlantic says mistake made in first moments of voyage

Human error has been cited as the reason for the MV Blue Puttees hitting a wharf in Port aux Basques harbour July 31. (CBC)

A Marine Atlantic ferry slammed into a wharf in southwestern Newfoundland this summer because of a mistake on the ship's bridge, the Crown corporation said Thursday.

The MV Blue Puttees struck the dock and a building just moments after it started to leave Port aux Basques on July 31, during a routine crossing to Nova Scotia. The ferry was carrying 398 passengers and a crew of 91 at the time.

Marine Atlantic said in a statement that the collision was caused by a mistake that an officer made in the first moments of the voyage.

Marine Atlantic said that information provided to date by the Transportation Safety Board — which is investigating the incident — showed the master of the Blue Puttees ordered 10-degree port rudder, with "50 per cent ahead propeller pitch."

Instead, the quartermaster mistakenly applied 10-degree starboard rudder.

About 42 seconds later, the master noticed the radar was showing that the ferry was going in the wrong direction.

"The master applied full astern pitch, but the vessel's speed had already reached 9.6 knots, and the vessel grounded before it could be stopped," said Marine Atlantic's statement, quoting information obtained from the TSB.

Nobody was injured, but the ferry and wharf were damaged.

Marine Atlantic added that one person has been disciplined for his role in the incident.

The RCMP also launched an investigation into the incident, and Marine Atlantic had immediately started its own review.

Marine Atlantic said it is now in the process of reviewing a number of recommendations, including the vessel speeds that ferries use when entering and leaving port. The corporation has hired the National Research Council to do that research. 

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